Mould infestations hit home prices and rents

Humid, wet weather triggers outbreaks

House prices are under attack! But it’s not from the credit crunch or tighter lending criteria, it’s from a rampant fungus – mould. And natural light and ventilation specialist, Solatube is encouraging owners to take action now to avoid settling for a reduced sale price or rental return.

“Mould can be a health risk for tenants and purchasers and a ‘wealth risk’ for vendors and landlords if it’s not treated quickly,” says Solatube’s Brett Dickson. “Unfortunately, mould is rampant in many parts of the country thanks to this summer’s prolonged hot and humid weather, not to mention the recent heavy rains. It’s a perfect storm for mould. However, mould can actually grow indoors at any time of the year when there is poor ventilation, rising damp or a water leak. It’s why home owners and landlords should tackle the issue head on, with air and light.”

The cost of mould for property owners 

Jason Guildea, Principal at Guildea Residential on Sydney’s lower Northern Beaches, says the cost of mould to a vendor or property investor can be huge.

“We generally find that when an investment property has a mould issue, it costs the landlord money either through a tenant vacating without a break-lease fee and the property being left vacant, or from the required cleaning costs and rent reduction until the mould is removed,” he says. “The laws dictate that a landlord must provide premises that are fit to live in.

“And when selling a property, you only get one chance to impress the buyers, which is why it’s important to make sure your property is in good condition and well presented – which means it’s essential there is no mould present. A well-presented, mould-free home leads to more buyer interest, which creates buyer competition resulting in a better sale price.”

How to stop mould moving in

Unlike prospective buyers or tenants, mould isn’t too fussy about where it resides – on walls, ceilings, rugs, carpets, tiles, furniture and clothing – as long as it’s damp and lacking in natural light.

The key to keeping a home free of this harmful fungus is proper ventilation and natural light.

NSW Health recommends using exhaust fans while bathing, operating a clothes dryer and cooking and to open windows when the weather permits.

Solatube’s solar-powered Solar Star helps reduce the chance of mould occurring in roof cavities. Substantially different to a wind vent, it’s designed to create a cooler, drier home by removing heat and moisture from the roof cavity without adding to your energy bill or compromising your security and letting in dust, rain or pollution. The Solar Star is also whisper quiet and easy to install.

“Many older homes have bathroom ventilation that goes into the roof cavity, which can lead to even greater moisture – and thus mould build up,” explains Dickson.

“More energy efficient homes with less temperature fluctuations and better quality insulation are likely to have less mould incidents. You may be running your fans, dehumidifier and air-conditioning unit to cool and dry your home to reduce mould growth, but heat and moisture continues to come down from your ceiling, which hinders your efforts and costs you money.”

Guildea agrees: “I have found that tenants from the cooler Northern Hemisphere countries aren’t used to having the windows open and thus keep the house closed up. They prefer to heat and cool the home with air conditioning which keeps moisture in and creates a mould problem.

“As every summer seems to get hotter and more humid, owners need to ensure their property is properly ventilated to keep it mould free. Being proactive ensures property investors get a better rental return as well as helping them keep the value of the property at a maximum. We have had numerous situations where improved airflow and ventilation at a property stops mould and improves the liveability of the property.”

How mould can affect our health

Mould can cause health problems when its microscopic airborne spores are inhaled by anyone sensitive or allergic to them. NSW Health warns that people with asthma, allergies or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mould and those with weakened immune systems or chronic lung diseases are more at risk of mould infection.

Allergic reactions to mould can include a running or blocked nose, coughing, irritated eyes and skin, and wheezing, and for anyone with a respiratory problem such as asthma, inhaled spores can trigger an asthma attack*.

Health NSW Gov Mould Factsheets

How Natural Light Increases Retail Sales & Product Appeal

Harnessing natural light is changing the way we shop – and that’s due in part to the enormous psychological benefits of incorporating natural light into the built environment.  Natural lighting specialist, Solatube, has noticed an increase in demand from the retail sector.

“It’s like combining retail therapy with light therapy. It harks back to the 1990s when that hallowed haven of US retail, Wal-Mart, began progressively replacing artificial lights with skylights and other natural light sources in many of their stores,” explains Solatube Commercial Manager, Darryl Wicks. “Expecting to see their energy bills decline, they also found that natural light produced a large increase in sales for products in certain areas of their stores.”

Perth warehouse Spearwood Furniture is a large retail premises that saw its average daily energy consumption plummet from 241kWH to 95kWH, thanks to a complete overhaul by Solatube Commercial Daylighting Systems. Now, Spearwood doesn’t use any electric lighting during the daylight hours. The retailer’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) costs have also been lowered, as the Solatube system produces significantly less heat than the majority of high-bay light fittings.

“Energy efficiency goes well beyond reducing the electricity account and Spearwood has achieved that by providing natural daylight to enhance the shopping experience. Additionally, staff have commented on how the building is now a cooler place to work in, as a result of the removal of the heat produced by artificial lighting,” says Mr Wicks. “The Solatube system provides the pinnacle of light input, colour consistency and the desired quality of light consistency day after day.”

Increased sales

A 2003 Heschong Mahone study in the US found evidence that good daylighting was found to increase sales by up to 40 per cent*. This research revealed that integrating green design, such as access to natural light and ventilation and choosing materials that are low in harmful chemicals, can improve retail takings.

“Products stored in areas lit by natural light sold in higher numbers than products kept under artificial light, often to a significant degree. By switching the locations of certain products, stores could enhance sales of one and decrease sales of the other,” explains Mr Wicks. 

Customer disposition and desire 

Scientific studies clearly show that natural light increases mood and productivity in the workplace. Evidence from retailers shows that it has the same effect on customers in a sales environment. Big-brand retail stores that light their checkout environment using natural light tend to have higher per-customer spending than their artificially lit counterparts. This has been attributed to the effect of natural light on people’s moods and desires – a positive, action-driven effect.

“Installing natural lighting above checkouts is an excellent way to enhance the mood of customers and increases their likelihood of purchasing products. Due to the forward location of checkouts, customers can benefit from walking in to store and experiencing natural light, as well as departing into natural light,” says Mr Wicks.

A key aspect of retail success is maintaining a happy and motivated workforce – a goal that natural light is paramount in achieving. People who work in retail stores that use natural light have higher levels of happiness, decreased fatigue, and better output and productivity than their peers. This means a motivated, effective sales team that’s capable of increasing revenue and creating a more effective retail business. “In addition to the savings made possible by natural lighting, the increase in revenue that it can lead to makes it an obvious choice for both small and big retailers,” adds Mr Wicks.

*Heschong Mahone Group, Inc  – Daylighting and Productivity, 2003

Aussie Households Under Mould Attack in Summer 2019

Humid, wet weather triggers mould outbreaks

Mold or Mould Stains on Damp Wall and Door behind Cabinet due to condensation caused by lack of ventilation.

Wardrobes, floors, ceilings and walls around the country are under attack – and the furry
culprit, mould, could be harming our health, not to mention our homes. Natural lighting and
ventilation specialist, Solatube is urging householders to “break the mould” and tackle the
issue head on with “air and light”.

“This summer’s prolonged hot and humid weather in many parts of the country, not to
mention the recent heavy rains, have created the perfect conditions to trigger mould growth
in homes,” says Solatube’s Brett Dickson. “While the current conditions can accelerate this,
mould can actually grow at any time of the year indoors when there is poor ventilation,
rising damp or a water leak.

“All types of mould have the potential to cause health problems; according to the NSW
Department of Health, the key to preventing its growth is to maintain a dry, well-ventilated

Solatube has created a solar-powered roof ventilation solution, Solar Star, which is
substantially different to a wind vent. It’s designed to create a cooler, drier home by
removing heat and moisture from the roof cavity without adding to your energy bill or
compromising your safety and security.

“More energy efficient homes, with less temperature fluctuations and better quality
insulation, are likely to have less mould incidents,” explains Dickson. “You may be running
your fans, dehumidifier and air-conditioning unit to cool and dry your home to reduce mould
growth, but heat and moisture continues to come down from your ceiling, which hinders
your efforts and costs you money.”

The damaging effects of mould on our health and homes
Mould can cause health problems when its microscopic airborne spores are inhaled by
anyone sensitive or allergic to them. NSW Health warns that people with asthma, allergies or
other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mould and those with weakened
immune systems or chronic lung diseases are more at risk of mould infection. Allergic
reactions to mould can include a running or blocked nose, coughing, irritated eyes and skin,
and wheezing, and for anyone with a respiratory problem such as asthma, inhaled spores
can trigger an asthma attack*.

In addition to health problems, mould, which often appears as a black, green and white
patch, is unsightly, can give off an unpleasant musty odour and is often costly and difficult to
remove. Vinegar, mild soap and bleach can effectively kill mould, however as mould roots
can penetrate absorbent materials, carpets, soft furnishings, and clothing often require
professional cleaning or to be thrown out.

About Solatube
Australian owned and operated, Solatube is the pioneer of tubular daylighting systems and is now a
leading manufacturer of tubular skylights, LED lighting and roof ventilation systems. Solatube’s
tubular skylights are high-performance daylighting systems using advanced optical technologies to
capture daylight and deliver it to interior spaces without natural light. For over 25 years, Solatube’s
skylights have helped create brighter, healthier and more energy efficient homes and commercial
Solatube’s Smart LED lighting system for its tubular skylights provides a fully automated and highly
efficient 24-hour lighting solution. And Solatube’s Solar Star solar powered roof ventilation system is
one of the most effective and powerful on the market.